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Former Oklahoma legislators decry Capitol Hill rail move

Former Oklahoma legislators decry Capitol Hill rail move

The Oklahoman

Published: September 4, 2009

Two former state lawmakers are asking a federal board to rethink a decision to allow rail cars to travel through the Capitol Hill business district as part of a recently approved realignment.

Former Reps. Al Lindley and Wanda Jo Stapleton, both of Oklahoma City, said a detour of Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railway cars puts residents in the Capitol Hill area at risk.

Stapleton said cars hauling hazardous materials are traveling on tracks at street level and could endanger residents of a nearby apartment home for the elderly and disabled as well as patrons at the Wiley Post Park, where the city’s skate park is located.

The detour is a result of the Interstate 40 realignment, which takes out a section of track at the city’s old Union Station rail yard. In June, the federal Surface Transportation Board approved the detour. Before the change, trains had traveled above the street level on bridges through the south central portion of downtown Oklahoma City.

An attorney working with the group has presented new information to the Surface Transportation Board about the cargo being moved on the street-level lines. The group is hoping the board will reverse its decision.

"This is not about ‘not in my backyard,’” Lindley said. "This has been in our backyard on the overhead tracks. This is about where it’s going to go through my backyard. This is about safety.”

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